Pundit Wire

Author Archives: Hal Gordon

Gas Exports and Liberty

DSCF1077 On my last visit to Budapest about a year ago, I was treated to a dramatic illustration of the power that Vladimir Putin’s Russia exercises over its former satellites through their dependency on imports of Russian natural gas.

Near Hungary’s parliament building is a park called Liberty Square. The park was created to honor the Hungarian patriots who died in an unsuccessful rising against Habsburg rule in 1848-49. But the park also has two other monuments to Hungary’s liberators.

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“Freedom for the thought that we hate”

westboro Nil nisi bonum de mortuis. “Speak only good of the dead.” Generally, that’s a sound maxim. But what if the dead person is the Reverend Fred Phelps, who died last week at the age of 85?

Never heard of Rev. Phelps? His Westboro Baptist Church has a website where you can read all about him.

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That’s blasphemy!

ingersol The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an agency charged by Congress with monitoring liberty of conscience around the world, has just issued a report on prosecutions for blasphemy in other countries.

Predictably, the leading offenders are Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Iran, Bangladesh, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Pakistan is cited as “the most egregious example … where blasphemy charges are common and numerous individuals are in prison, with a high number sentenced to death or life terms.”

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Ireland’s Gay Hero

casement New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh are boycotting their local St. Patrick’s Day parades because the organizers will not permit gays and lesbians take part if they openly proclaim their sexual orientation.

This is a very old controversy, and every time it flares up I am once again amazed that no one thinks to mention Roger Casement—a man who is unquestionably one of Ireland’s greatest heroes and who was also unquestionably gay.

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Jury Duty–Again

the jury Every two years, regular as clockwork, I get a summons in my mailbox ordering me to report for jury duty. Every time it arrives, I groan.

Being summoned for jury duty is the closest I will ever get to being drafted into the army, and the two experiences are much alike. One is reduced to a number and ordered to report to an inconvenient location at an inconveniently early hour. One is searched, processed, relieved of sharp objects, confined to a holding room, indoctrinated and sworn.

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The Christian on the Couch

couch In 1938, shortly after the Nazis marched into Vienna, Sigmund Freud fled to England. He settled in the town of Hampstead, not far from Oxford University. The following year, when Freud was 83 and dying slowly and painfully from cancer of the mouth, he was visited by a young Oxford professor.

The identity of the young professor is not known, but on the supposition that it was C.S. Lewis, then on the brink of becoming one of the leading Christian apologists of the 20th century

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“Who will write this ignorant man’s state papers?”

lincoln When Abraham Lincoln won the Republican presidential nomination in 1860, one newspaper editor demanded, “Who will write this ignorant man’s state papers?”

As we prepare to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, we 21st century Americans find such a question laughable. But in 1860 there was good reason to look on Lincoln as–if not an ignorant man–at least a man who lacked formal education.

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“I sit with Shakespeare…”

dubois In honor of Black History Month, I am going to share a story that I read many years ago. I do not recall exactly where and when, but I will never forget the story itself.

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